Uber, Lyft among companies to offer Election Day deals, but are they legal?

Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 05, 2018

Tuesday is Election Day, and several companies are offering promotions and freebies in celebration of those exercising democracy.

While there is nothing illegal about running promotions in conjunction with Election Day, federal laws prohibit companies and individuals from offering incentives for voting. That means any promotion that requires you to show an "I Voted" sticker could be in violation of 18 USC Sec. 597. 

The law states that any expenditure to a voter in exchange for a vote, or for withholding a vote for that matter, is in violation of the law and those giving away the expenditure is subject to a fine or arrest. 

The Field Museum in Chicago originally was going to offer free admission to those who showed an "I Voted" sticker, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Now, the offer is good for anyone in Illinois, regardless if you voted or not. 

Uber, which is among ride-sharing companies that are offering free rides to the polls through its app, said the following: "This offer is not intended to induce, nor is it conditioned on, the act of voting, refraining from voting or voting for or against any particular candidate, political party or measure."

Lyft is also offering help for those looking for a ride to the polls. It will take 50 percent off the cost of a ride on Tuesday by using a promo code, which will be available on its app on Tuesday. 

Rental car service Zipcar is offering $20 off a future ride for those who use its service on Election Day. 

If you're looking to use two wheels to get to the polls, Lime is offering 30-minute rentals of its scooters and bikes on Election Day. 

In the world of food, Potbelly is offering free cookies on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the only requirement being that you purchase an entree. 

Shake Shack is offering free French fries by either showing an "I voted" sticker or by using code "IVoted" on its app.